Sean Newsom’s senior year of high school started with typical teenage pranks, like sticking a cup to the roof of his car with magnets just to mess with people as he drove around his small town in the Northern California mountains.
It ended with him living in an apartment with his older brother and two roommates, working at a tanning salon and learning how to be an adult without his parents. In between, a monstrous wildfire consumed his home and destroyed the town of Paradise, leaving most residents homeless and scattering its close-knit people throughout the region with little time to say goodbye. Newsom’s parents moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with his two younger siblings to start a new life.
Newsom stayed because of Paradise High School.
The school was one of the few buildings in town to survive the blaze that tore through the town on Nov. 8, killing 85 people, although it couldn’t be used for classes.